Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. United Kingdom/Canada/USA, 2017. Acacia Filmed Entertainment, Film 44, Ingenious Media, Savvy Media Holdings, Star Thrower Entertainment, Synergics Films, Thunder Road Pictures, Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, Voltage Pictures, Wild Bunch. Screenplay by Taylor Sheridan. Cinematography by Ben Richardson. Produced by Elizabeth A. Bell, Peter Berg, Matthew George, Basil Iwanyk, Wayne L. Rogers. Music by Nick Cave, Warren Ellis. Production Design by Neil Spisak. Costume Design by Kari Perkins. Film Editing by Gary Roach.
Jeremy Renner plays a hunter for the Fish and Wildlife Department whose job has him living in the snowy peaks of Wyoming, shooting the odd wolf that threatens local livestock. When his search for the mountain lion that killed a steer belonging to a family on a Native American reservation takes him out to the wilderness beyond the community’s property lines, he discovers the body of a young girl who has died of exposure but clearly bears injuries that suggest she was running away from something traumatic. Legal jurisdiction requires the FBI to be brought in, arriving in the form of green Elizabeth Olsen, and she, Renner, and local tribal police officer Graham Greene team up to find out the truth behind the girl’s death. The fact that Renner’s own teenage daughter died under somewhat similar circumstances means it won’t be easy for him to participate, but his familiarity with the landscape around him is vital to helping Olsen get her job done, particularly considering that she came to a mountain covered in snow wearing high heeled boots. Dark, moody and often terrifying, this is a gripping thriller whose rich characterizations enhance the fascinating and devastating mystery at its core. Details of reservation life are not discarded in favour of an emphasis on entertainment, there is also plenty about the marginalization of indigenous peoples in North America that is worked beautifully into the film’s streamlined narrative (ironically at the same time that the movie, which is predominately about white characters, marginalizes their screen time). Gil Birmingham is superb in his few moments as the father of the victim, while Jon Bernthal has a great cameo as a character connected to her fate.